I once killed a man briefly – for eternity.
But first I watched him:
He is untangling a vine that stops his progress. Engrossed;
Looking down; trusting, as I later learn, to eyes that peer
Intently from behind.
At first I think our Bushman Scout has strayed,
For we are Company, noisy, strong about that place;
Yet he so calm, unconcerned;
Seemingly engrossed with nothing but the vine.
He looks old: that face, it’s fat, it’s dark; expressionless.
His hands though, which are small and delicate, are busy;
The fingers, indecently pale against the living, green mass of vine.
To signify his presence to the blokes about
I carefully raise my hand,
Slowly, with silent, thumb-down deliberation.
There’s a track between them and me,
Dazzling white it’s in the Sun,
But he’s in dark, deep shadow with the vine.
Later we find a metal watch loosely clasped about his wrist,
It had a second-hand which ticked
And ticked and ticked right to the end and past.
The vine, it parts. He lifts his eyes. I shoot him.
The centre of the seen mass that was that man
Had been its belly, slightly low.
I’d used its fingers as my mark.
They were perfect.
Private Eddie Stankowski, Rifleman,
Private Russel Cromarty, Rifleman,
Private Les Maynard, Machine Gunner
Lance Corporal Frank Chambers, Section 2IC
Private Jim Kelly, Rifleman, and
By Mick Shave